It was Queen Eizabeth I who reportedly said “I would not open windows into men’s souls”.
The historical context was the 1588 Act of Uniformity which was intended to unite her subjects under a common prayer book. However she did not want to go so far as to impose ways of interpreting it, establishing the principle that the state should keep out of what goes on in the people’s minds and souls. It helped to lay the the groundwork for the secular state we came to take for granted.
But times have changed.
In 2006 Tony Blair’s Racial and Religious Hatred Act started to erode that principle. Sub section 29B (1) set the tone:
A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is
threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
With this wording the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts must necessarily establish the intention of the person using the words or actions concerned. It is the thought that counts.
If someone publicly burns a Koran, it is quite possible that he intends to stir up religious hatred but it is equally possible that his intentions go no further than expressing his personal contempt for the book, or the “accursed book” as Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone called it.
If someone puts a Koran in a jar of urine he might even persuade the judge that it his intentions were purely artistic.
Or if he stands outside a mosque handing out flyers detailing some of the Koran’s more hateful verses it is quite possible that his intention is only to enlighten worshippers about its contents with a view to converting them to a more benign religion.
As yet, police training does not include mind reading. What is a poor copper to do? Fortunately the Met have produced a handy guide entitled What Is Hate Crime? which relieves him of the requirement to form a judgment about the suspect’s intention. All that is required is for the “victim”, or even a passerby, to regard the hate crime as such.
Most readers will know about that. What I really want to draw your attention to is the next proposed step toward the reality of thought crimes. The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has produced a report called The Spectrum of Far-Right Worldviews in the UK which lays out the means to identify dangerous far-right groups claiming to be non-violent with the aim of “stemming their narratives” before they turn to violence or their views inspire others to do so.
Four subject groups were selected for comparison with a “convicted far-right extremist”. Three months’ worth of the groups’ tweets and similar were then analysed for overlaps with said extremist’s ideology. The groups’ real, as opposed to their claimed, views were thus determined and, following suitable changes in the law, they will be designated as Hate Groups and deprived of some of their democratic rights.
What does the report call for the government to do?
The central aim is to:
Create a new law to designate ‘hate groups’ through an Act of Parliament. (p12)
Among other penalties to be applied to those groups:
Under designation, hate groups would be impeded from appearing on media outlets or engaging
with public institutions. (p13)
hate groups should always be prohibited from processions. (p13)
How does Designation relate to Proscription?
Groups can be proscribed for terrorist activities under existing legislation. Proscription comes under criminal law and requires evidence.
Designation would be a civil offence and would require no evidence beyond the say so of a committee set up to identify Hate Groups.
Who would be on that committee?
No need to worry. It would be an independent oversight committee of non-governmental experts
Mind you, they would be appointed by the government….just like that enquiry into Sharia courts that was headed by a Muslim theologian.
Will freedom of speech be protected?
The authors assure us it will be:
Recognising anti-Muslim hatred is not about restricting free speech, but acknowledging the harm
that British Muslims are experiencing when attacks on individuals are masked as criticism of
their religion. (p13)
This is a moot point of course. The formulation sounds eerily like that used in the recent APPG report Defining Islamophobia which promised it was not about restricting freedom of speech but on closer inspection turned out to be absolutely about that. That is why in the House of Commons debate on adopting the definition the Communities Minister James Brokenshire called it a “backdoor blasphemy law”.
Who is the “convicted far-right extremist” selected as a benchmark?
Anders Breivik….of course, although he would more accurately be described as a murderous neo-Nazi nutcase. Is it necessary to point out that he was not convicted of far-right extremism but of mass murder? Clearly the report is using the lesser term to imply that he and their target “far-right activist groups” are in the same category.
What themes from his ideology were selected?
2. Opposition between the West and Islam
3. Anti-establishment sentiment
4. Justification of violence
Which are the supposedly far-right groups selected for examination?
Generation Identity England, Britain First, For Britain and the British National Party (BNP).
What makes them far-right?
That is never made clear but it is well known that anyone to the right of the Guardian is far-right.
On what basis were they selected then?
They have all been sanctioned by UK authorities or social media companies for promoting problematic views.
Why can the groups’ future trajectory be extrapolated from past tweets?
Apparently the key is to be found in the Institute’s earlier report Islamist Extremism Research Findings: The Relationship Between Violent and Nonviolent Islamist Extremism.
Our report tells us “as our previous research has consistently highlighted, there is a complex but undeniable link between the ideas behind nonviolent and violent extremism” (p.7).
I tried the supporting link and got the message “Hmm. We’re having trouble finding that site”. What a shame. We really need to know what that complex and undeniable link is.
What were the methodology and results?
Both are summarised in graphic form on pp.9-10 using little clock like diagrams with quadrants filled in to indicate the groups’ purported levels of agreement with Breivik’s four themes from none through to full.
Are they reliable?
According to the report:
The assessments of the level of overlap between these groups’ messaging and Anders Breivik’s
come from hundreds of pieces of public content for each group as well as the researchers’
judgements. This produced a rigorous framework, though one that can be open to debate. (p8)
Who were the researchers who made the judgments?
It is not disclosed. Possibly interns. Possibly Labour Party activists. Probably not Telegraph readers.
Can we see the data?
No. Who do you think you are?
What is their predictive value?
Well, the tweets examined were taken from the period Jan to March 2018, eighteen months ago. None of the groups have spilt blood since, as I far as I have been able to ascertain.
Some might think this study lacks all validity and is, in fact, a laughable attempt to give a preconceived political judgment the appearance of objectivity, with the intention of handing arbitrary power to whoever controls the designation process.
However, in an attempt at fair-mindedness, I tried out the approach myself and have to admit I was impressed. I examined statements made by Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow cabinet for comparison with the ideology of Pol Pot and found a shocking overlap. Sorry, I can’t give details but you can trust me. In due course, after Tony Blair’s proposals have been made law, I intend to contact the authorities with a view to getting the Labour Party designated a Hate Group.
Let us examine one of the gang of four, For Britain, in more detail. I already knew something about it but I have been taking a closer look since Tony Blair’s report came out.
For Britain qualified for inclusion by being banned by Twitter, something many would regard as a badge of honour (p.42). Its leader Anne Marie Waters (who the report cannot bear to name) explained “I was thrown off Twitter for saying that Muslims are raping girls in Rotherham, but the police care more about tweets”.
I knew of her from her earlier work setting up and running Sharia Watch which, among other things, protested at the mistreatment of Muslim women under Sharia in Britain, something which mainstream feminists have consistently turned a blind eye to.
It was particularly surprising to see For Bitain in the dock because it is a properly set up political party which means that it would have had to pass scrutiny by the Electoral Commission.
How did For Britain score on Breivik’s four key themes?
1. Islam vs. the West – 3/4 overlap
Sees Islam as a growing and violent threat
Can this really be controversial? Every time the Security Services tell us how things are going there are more jihadis in the country and more successful or foiled jihad attacks to be reported.
Is MI5 going to be designated a Hate Group?
2. Victimisation – 3/4 overlap
Believes Britain is becoming unsafe for white people
I cannot find any reference to “white people” on the For Britain website or in the output I have seen, only “British people” who come in various colours. They include the Deputy Chair Kadeeja Adam and the Islam Spokesman Nissar Hussain, both Muslim apostates.
For Britain certainly does believe that Britain is becoming unsafe for British people (and British culture) not just white people. If Tony Blair could just provide a damning quote or two I am sure we would all be satisfied.
3. Anti-Establishment – 1/2 overlap
Accuses the ‘elites’ of betraying the ‘people’
Of course. How can this be controversial either?
The ‘people’ did not ask for the mass immigration of people who revere a genocidal warlord whose teachings and example have inspired a 1400 year jihad against the non-Muslim world. Nor did they ask for the neighbourhoods they grew up in to be turned into suburbs of Lahore, unlike the leafy surroundings where the ‘elites’ live.
What could be more of a betrayal than the decades long ignoring by the elites, and their functionaries on the ground, of industrial scale rape and exploitation of indigenous girls by Muslim grooming gangs?
But it was Tony Blair himself who perpetrated the greatest betrayal against the British people by opening the floodgates to third world, and predominantly Muslim, immigration in order to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity” (and enlarge his voter base). Now he wants to deny a voice to those who object to it.
4. Justification of Violence – 1/4 overlap
Provides some justification for violence
The following section from p.37 is worth quoting in full since it shows the preconceived conclusion which the data is used to support even though it clearly does not.
I have highlighted some important phrases in bold and have added my own comments [like this].
Our analysis of the groups’ positions shows at most an apparent willingness to reason the
violence committed by others in the cause of far-right ideals. This rhetoric was not prevalent
within the sample period, though our analysis of other statements shows some engagement
with this theme. Reactions from For Britain’s leadership to the March 2019 Christchurch terror attack exemplify this. Although they clearly condemn the violence, For Britain also find
reasoning in it [ie find reasons for it]:
“Only fear can prompt actions like this. People are afraid. They are afraid of the changes in our
countries, in Western countries, to something we no longer recognise and they’re afraid of Islam…
If this continues, what do you expect to happen? People all over the Western world have been
ignored for years about their concerns about immigration, Islam, globalisation. This is the result.
This is the result. And it’s time we started talking about why Western people react the way they do,
rather than just why Muslims react the way they do.”
This quote exemplifies how hard it is to draw the line in connection to violence. For Britain’s
leadership also claimed that the attack would be used to silence activist groups like themselves,
whom they believe are wrongly labelled as the far right [how right they were].
To say “This rhetoric was not prevalent within the sample period” must mean that there was none, otherwise an example from the sample period would surely have been brought forward rather than a statement from a year later.
In that case what justification is there for claiming, from their data, that For Britain “provides some justification for violence”? We do not know because we are not allowed to see the data.
Even this later statement in no way justifies the claim that For Britain provides any justification for violence. It is merely warning about the reality of what can happen when free speech about a fear-inducing threat to our Western way of life is suppressed, something which For Britain is trying to avert not encourage or justify.
I looked up the video referenced to see whether the quote was presented fairly but was denied access. Here is another video of Anne Marie Waters speaking about the aftermath to the Christchurch attack which I hope will give readers some idea of her attitude to violence, among other things:
Tony Blair and the authors of this report start from the assumption that criticism of Islam cannot originate in genuine concerns about Islam but instead must come from a far-right ideology, and they find confirmation of that view wherever they look. The truth is that the great majority of people who object to Islam are not far-right at all. They have simply been prompted by an endless litany of atrocities to study the teachings of Islam and the actions it has inspired over 1400 years and still does today, and have concluded that it is unavoidably inimical to Western civilisation.
Tony Blair thinks he can read the minds of critics of Islam, thus anticipating their future actions. They may protest that they abhor violence but he knows better and wishes to block their access to the media before they go full Breivik.
If his proposals find their way into law then our freedom of speech about Islam will be a thing of the past. And not only that but those proposals themselves are more likely than anything to lead to violence. What does he imagine happens when people are arbitrarily prevented from using words? And that is not any kind of hidden encouragement but really, actually, honestly, just a warning.